At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find there’s no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Skully AR-1 — HUD motorcycle helmet
All you nerds out there still drooling over Google Glass – take a break from your Dungeons & Dragons match and peep game on some headgear that doesn’t make you look like a dweeb. The Skully AR-1 is a fully-functional motorcycle helmet that just so happens to have some Terminator tech hardwired into it. Inside its hardy tri-composite fiberglass shell, the AR-1 is outfitted with an integrated heads-up display that can project navigational information right up in your visor. No more planning your route or pulling over to get directions – you can just pop on your helmet, fire up your bike, and ride to your destination. Skully will give you turn-by-turn directions while you’re en route. It’s also outfitted with a 180-degree rear-view camera that quite literally watches your back while you ride. It captures what’s going on behind you and beams it to the HUD in your visor, effectively eliminating all your blind spots. It’s like having eyes in the back of your head.
Athos — Smart workout garments
Wrist-borne fitness trackers and smartwatches are so 2012. In the not-so-distant future, all the cool kids will be rocking smart textiles to track their activity — if Athos has anything to say about it, that is. Earlier this week the company unveiled its first product: a bio-sensing smart shirt that uses electromyography to track your heart rate, respiration rate, respiration volume, movement intensity, the number of calories you’ve burned, and a whole lot more. Movement is measured with the help of a detachable “core” that clips onto the shirt’s upper arm. This little module, which is lighter than four nickels and shorter than your index finger, is equipped with a slew of different sensors, including a six-axis accelerometer and a Bluetooth radio to communicate all the data to your smartphone. The technology has been kept under wraps for a few months, but now, after extensive testing on athletes around the globe, Athos is finally ready for production. Cores (which can be used on multiple shirts) are going for $199, whereas shirts and shorts can be had for the pre-launch price of just $99.
Nomiku 2.o — App-enabled sous vide cooker
Nomiku 2.0 is essentially a smaller, smarter, cheaper, and overall better version of the original Nomiku immersion circulator — a product that was already one of the best sous-vide cookers on the market. This new version comes with a number of big improvements over the original. First of all, rather than rocking the same pseudo-cylindrical form factor, Nomiku 2.0 is more oblong and compact. It’s also got a bigger face and temperature dial, which, this time around, is designed to face outward from the pot rather than inward. More notably, the new version is also Wi-Fi enabled, so you can connect it to your network and control it from afar via a mobile device. The accompanying smartphone/tablet app takes the guesswork out of sous vide, eliminating the need for memorizing temperatures and cook times. With the new Nomiku, you simply tell the app what food you’re cooking and it sets the time and temperature automatically.
LightFreq — Color-changing speaker bulb
LightFreq is essentially an app-enabled, color-variable LED lightbulb with a small wireless speaker integrated into its center. Therefore, not only does it allow you to control the brightness and color temperature of the lights just like Philips Hue or LIFX, it also lets you wirelessly stream music through it. Using the accompanying app for iOS or Android, you can beam your tunes to up to 50 connected LightFreq speaker bulbs. And because they’re all networked, they automatically sync with each other to ensure music playback doesn’t sound echoey or delayed. This definitely isn’t the first take on the speaker bulb concept that we’ve ever encountered, but thanks to some extra hardware under the hood, these bulbs do more than just play music and change colors. Each bulb is outfitted with a small microphone inside its hull, so in addition to playing music, these things can also act as an intercom system. Using the app, you can select any individual LightFreq bulb in your house and speak through it, or you can speak on all LightFreqs at once — no more shouting upstairs to get ahold of your housemates.
Scribble — Color-picking smart pen
Mixing the perfect color is hard enough with real paint. Getting the exact shade of blue you’re looking for in a painting app is almost impossible. After all, you can’t color match an orange. The color picker tool on your tablet or smartphone can’t touch real world objects and let you know its HTML code. But now, a new smart stylus and pen called Scribble claims it can do just that. Scribble is a pen with a scanner that can determine the exact color of any object and reproduce it. Once it’s figured out the color you want, Scribble automatically creates the color for you to draw or paint with on regular paper or on your mobile device. The company recently launched a Kickstarter project, which was funded three times over in just a few short days. However, it’s also worth noting that shortly after it was launched, Scribble cancelled its campaign, and hasn’t yet restarted it, despite making promises to do so as soon as possible.